The Latin League and Rome
The Italian people, in the early centuries of the first millennium BC, found
themselves surrounded by these various new invaders. At first the Italians
occupied the center of the peninsula, but later they separated into two main
divisions. The so-called "highlanders"
took the central and eastern portions. The Latins
, or "lowlanders,"
dwelt in the west. Because of their relations with the Etruscans, the Latins
became more thoroughly civilized than the highlanders. It wasn't long before
their settlements grew into cities, and these became city-states. Although these
city-states were independent, they were bound together by the necessity of
defending themselves against the Etruscans and other enemies. Early in the first
millennium BC the Latins formed what was known as the Latin League
One of the cities in this confederation was Rome. Originally a settlement on
the Palatine Hill, populated by shepherds, farmers, and traders, Rome grew into
a city when another settlement on Quirinal Hill was incorporated. The low land
between the Palatine and the Quirinal became the Forum. Soon the surrounding
hills were settled and they, too, were added to Rome. Later the Wall of Servius
was built around all these settlements.
Rome's had many advantages, especially the defensibility of its location.
Pirates could not strike it from the sea. Seven hills fortified it against the
Etruscans. The Tiber, Italy's largest navigable river, made trade easy. In
addition, Rome was in the center of Italy and that made it a fortunate position for an